What is depression?

Depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a common and serious mood disorder. Many people experience depression in a range of ways, such as; difficulty to focus and concentrate, lack of motivation to participate in life, persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed and a general feeling of hopelessness about the future. Individuals can also present with a physical symptom such as chronic pain or digestive issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period. At least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite; weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilt
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, indecisiveness or making decisions, nearly every day
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition.

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